By Laurice Laird
It was a Sunday. Just an ordinary Sunday. Churchgoers were either already in church, or they were on their way there. The event was scheduled to begin at 1pm and I was running late. I had put myself forward to cover the event of the month and I was running late.
I asked my sister to join me and we made our way together. Cutting through Brixton’s side roads, there was no inclination that anything out of the ordinary was happening, except when a passing stranger commented on whether we were racing today. I had worn normal clothes especially because I had not planned on entering. We shrugged it off and we made our way.
Upon arrival to Pope’s Road, the roads were blocked off, but cars were still trying their best to pass through, much to the annoyance of some spectators. We approached the main desk, and I queried about the line up for the day.
Waiting for the race to begin I noticed the crowds growing, and a general buzz of anticipation filled the air. Somewhere between the under 12’s and men’s heats I registered to enter. It was only £1 so I borrowed my sister’s shoes and made my way to the starting line. Wearing jeans and shoes that were one size too big, I observed the other six competitors in their athletic gear and thought what am I doing?
Could I really win this? I hadn’t trained in years so I didn’t even know where I was at. I said to myself, if it looks like I’m losing, I’m going to drop out.
I felt sick. I mean really sick. That’s how nervous I was. More than anything I was afraid of losing. If you’re going to do something, do it properly right? Before I had time to be sick the whistle went and I thought I would have false started.
I just remember running for my life. With no lane markings, I don’t even know how I looked. Halfway through the race I realised I was winning, so I continued. That got me comfortable and I realised I had slowed a little by the time I had crossed the line.
After assisting a lady with a survey she was conducting, I approached one of the volunteers to find out my time. I think it was over 16 seconds. I was not impressed.
After a short recess, the races continued before the concluding race: the women’s final, and this time, the women’s over 40’s champion was in it. I saw her run, but I had to muster some confidence. I was already tired from interviewing competitors in the other races and from running in the heats (I appreciate that it was only 100m).
We lined up, but now the weather had changed. With breeze blowing and the rain just beginning, I said even if I don’t win this one, I can blame it on the weather.
The starter blew the whistle and again we were off, but this time I could see someone right beside me. I panicked and thought ‘this is not supposed to be happening’. My expression changed and I began to run on the very tips of my toes (I really don’t believe I could have gone any higher), and I felt myself go faster. I was pulling away. Could this really be happening? Yes, I had won. My time was 15.21, I hadn’t fallen over and people were congratulating me.
This was excellent. I was presented with a three-month Brixton Recreation Centre membership, a voucher for two cocktails at Seven in Brixton, a meal for two at Prima Donna and a gold medal.
The atmosphere throughout was electric, and I thank everyone but most importantly God for making the day what it was. I can only imagine how the professionals must feel in the real thing.
I wore my medal all the way home and I’m proud to have won.
For the full article on the day’s events, click here.